Adherence to iron with folic acid supplementation and its associated factors among pregnant women attending antenatal care follow up at Debre Tabor General Hospital, Ethiopia, 2017

PLoS One. 2019 Jan 7;14(1):e0210086. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0210086. eCollection 2019.


Introduction: Nutritional anemia is a major public health problem throughout the world, particularly in developing countries. Iron with folic acid supplementation (IFAS) is recommended to mitigate anemia and its resulting complications during pregnancy. There has been limited study on IFAS adherence of pregnant women in the study area. The aim of this study was to assess adherence to IFAS and its associated factors among pregnant women attending antenatal care service in Debre Tabor General Hospital, Ethiopia.

Methods: An institution-based cross-sectional study was conducted from January 9 to April 8, 2017, at Debre Tabor General Hospital. A total of 262 study participants were included and selected by systematic random sampling. The entire interviewed questionnaire was checked and entered into EpiData version 3.1 and then exported to SPSS version 20 for windows for analysis. IFAS adherence status was defined as, if pregnant mothers took 65% or more of the IFAS which is equivalent to taking IFAS at least 4 days a week during the 1-month period preceding the study. Regressions were fitted to identify independent predictors of IFAS adherence. A P-value of less than 0.05 was used to declare statistical significance.

Results: A total of 241 pregnant women were included (92% response rate), of which 107 (44%) were adherent to IFAS. Only 39% received IFAS counseling, and 52% had some knowledge of IFAS. Gravidity (AOR = 2.92 95% CI (1.61, 5.30)), gestational age at first ANC visit (AOR = 3.67, 95% CI (1.94, 6.97)), pregnant women who got advice about IFAS (AOR = 2.04, 95%CI (1.12, 3.75)), current anemia (AOR = 2.22, 95%CI (1.45, 4.29)), and had knowledge about IFAS (AOR = 3.27, 95% CI (1.80, 5.95)) were statistically associated with adherence to IFAS among pregnant women.

Conclusion: Overall, IFAS adherence among pregnant women was low. The associated factors with adherence of IFAS were counseling and knowledge, early ANC attendance, pregnancy history, and current anemia diagnosis. IFAS counseling by health workers was low but, when given, was associated with improved IFAS adherence. Health workers and health extension workers should consistently counsel on IFAS benefits during ANC visit, to improve IFAS adherence during the current and subsequent pregnancies.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / prevention & control*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Ethiopia
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Hematinics / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Iron / administration & dosage
  • Medication Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Nutritional Status
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / prevention & control*
  • Pregnant Women / psychology
  • Young Adult


  • Hematinics
  • Folic Acid
  • Iron

Grant support

The authors received no specific funding for this work.